Notices issued for OCS Sales 194, 197

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Feb. 28 -- The US Minerals Management Service has issued final notices for Outer Continental Shelf Lease Sales 194 and 197, both scheduled Mar. 16.

Central Gulf of Mexico Sale 194 offers 4,063 unleased blocks covering 21.4 million acres 3-210 miles off Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama 4-3,400 m or more of water. MMS estimates the sale could result in production of 276-654 million bbl of oil and 1.59-3.3 tcf of natural gas.

Its final notice included recent changes such as the offering of Mississippi Canyon Block 920, with a stipulation requiring that all exploration and production activities on the seabed surface or within the water column be done from outside the lease via directional drilling or other techniques.

Also, MMS is offering previously deferred Vermillion Blocks 139 and 140, with the stipulation that seabed and water column use be limited in areas where an offshore LNG deepwater terminal has been approved.

Another change in the notice is the increase of the minimum bonus bid to $35.50/acre or fraction from $25/acre or fraction for deepwater tracts in 400-800 m or less of water.

Eastern Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 197 offers 124 unleased blocks covering 714,240 acres 100-196 miles offshore in 1,600-3,425 m or more of water. MMS estimates recoverable hydrocarbons in the blocks at 65-85 million bbl of oil and 270-340 bcf of natural gas.

Changes included in this lease sale's final notice are price thresholds for deepwater royalty suspension of $39/bbl of oil and $6.50/MMbtu for gas, in 2004 dollars.

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